Museveni’s un-honoured pledge prompts Besigye to remind Judges about fate of detained NUP MPs
Two National Unity Platform (NUP) MPs have spent two Christmas seasons (since September 2021) behind bars and high walls of Luzira prison.
Despite the suspects being well known figures to deserve introduction, but for purposes of formality we shall go ahead and drop the particulars.
Allan Ssewanyana a.k.a Musajjawabwiino (the man of data) is a two-term Member of Parliament representing the people of Makindye West.
Ssewanyana was prior to his detention, running a football team and financing several projects for his constituents. All that is now believed to either be struggling or to have collapsed altogether.
The second is Mohammed Ssegirinnya a.k.a Mr. Update. The first time MP represents the people of Kawempe North in Parliament.
Ssegirinnya had prior to his detention credibly started and equipped a hospital to serve his constituents. This week, the landlord of the hospital chased its operators from his premises citing huge rental arrears of more than UGX 10 million shillings.
Museveni’s unfulfilled pledge
The president after strongly opposing their release on bail, had publicly undertaken to fast-track the prosecution of these lawmakers.
Almost two years later, the pledge remains redundant as the lawmakers continue to waste away in detention with neither their trial taking off nor the judges granting them bail.
Incidentally, the president made his bail stance known in the presence of Chief Justice Alphonse Owinyi Dollo and right within majority of his fellow judges as well as magistrates’ hearing range.
That happened, moreover, on one of the memorable occasions used to mark the late former Chief Justice Ben Magunda Kiwanuka’s assassination.
Kiwanuka met his painful demise on account of his credibly unbendable stance to offer justice to all manner of man without fear or favor.
Subsequent to the president’s controversial position, the judiciary which stands accused of being under the firm capture of the State, has since rejected any of the detained MPs’ repeated request for bail.
As that goes on, both Ssegirinnya and Ssewanyana are, on the other hand, said to be in very poor health. Their fragile shape is reportedlly being made worse yet again by the lack of the required specialized medical attention at the prison.
According to Nakawa West MP and NUP spokesperson Joel Ssenyonyi, Ssewanyana was sneaked into Mulago national referral hospital this past week after he allegedly suffered from a lung infection.
Ssegirinya has also been in and out of hospitals under tight guards. Both incarcerated MPs have demonstrated signs of poor health as seen from their swollen faces and rotten feet.
Yet, as per his lawyer Erias Lukwago, Mulago lacks what it takes to manage the magnitude of what Ssewanyana suffers from.
Be that as it may, the specialists at Mulago seem unable to refer the fragile patient to where the treatment he needs is. They fear such a life-saving decision can jeopardise the source of bread and butter for them.
As for the prison services and despite lacking the necessary expertise, they can never dare to release the suspects in absence of a court order. But, which court order, the judges seem also not to be bold enough to issue.
For those reasons, the legislators have been unable to access the treatment they urgently require. Nevermind that the patients have always been ready and willing to foot the costs involved themselves.
Such have been the odds staked against these legislators that even after the expiry of the 180 days after which they are permitted to access bail, the judiciary continues still to adamantly refuse to assist them to enjoy that fundamental constitutional right.
Looking perhaps to continuously keep the high profile suspects in detention, the State has been changing judges in these cases. The cases have ended up being adjourned by the judges from time to time.
In addition, the cases which stem from the same set of facts and which were allegedly committed in the same periods of time, have since, nonetheless, been split into two parts.
The alleged murder cases are lodged in Masaka while the terrorism charges are lying in Kampala courts as they continue to remain unheard to date.
This, despite the defense lawyers’ advising the State to amalgamate the charges to save the previous time and the costs being spent by the witnesses, the suspects and the attorneys as they move to attend the two separate courts.
The duo had been granted bail previously. But on each of those occassions, the State security agents ended up re-arresting them and bundling suspects in the dreaded Drone trucks before returning them to the prison.
A story is being told about how the President and the MPs had purportedly entered a deal for the pair to supposedly spy on NUP.
By that clandestine job, Ssewanyana and Ssegirinnya were also purportedly under instructions to frame Bobi Wine, the boss of NUP.
That the President had facilitated the MPs with a lot of money to carry out the job but that the two MPs ate part of the money and diverted the rest to finance charity projects within their constituents, and never made good on their deal.
These purported acts of betrayal, it is claimed, is what is now being used to justify the anger with which the State has been purportedly handling Ssewanyana and Ssegirinnya.
Even then, neither Ssewanyana nor Ssegirinnya has ever come out to credit or to discredit this story let alone the leaders of NUP themselves.
The same has been true in the case of the president himself. Accordingly, what is being said in this regard seems to be hearsay for the reason of being unverified.
But what perhaps goes to indicate these charges are merely political other than criminal is the fact the president himself has ever hinted on writing them off.